A little blurb about how BA came to be… (hmm, we shall see about ‘little’!)
Well now, to learn about the origins of Budding Artists and my role as an Art Educator, I’d have to take you back to 2001… the heady days of George Dubya’s election win, 9/11 (sheesh!), Douglas Adams and George Harrison being lost to this world (the first making more of an impact on me than the latter – one of my FAVOURITE authors), and I think we are all still a little bit relieved that the prophesied Millennium Bug had failed to eventuate! I’m sure a lot of positive things happened in that year, maybe Justin Beiber was born, I dunno. Ooh, the first Harry Potter movie was released! But I digress…
In my little world, I was a fiesty 21 year old, fresh from my Anthropology Honours, seeking out a direction. A recently-ex-boyfriend’s Dad worked at a riverside, heritage art centre and gallery as the Administrator. Hooray for me – their existing kids’ after school art teacher was off on holidays mid-term, and they needed a fill-in. Apparently I struck Bob as having what it takes, and I was asked if I’d like to help out. There were actually two fill-ins for different age groups- myself and another teacher, the ever-delightful Trudy Gripton. Before long, the original teacher moved to other pastures, and Trudy and I were asked back as the new kids’ art teachers. Trudy took the 9+ year olds, and I had the 5-8s. We were both well-suited to our allocated age ranges – Trudy, studying Interior Architecture at the time, was inspired to share in-depth artistic concepts with her kids; and myself, a sparkly rainbow-girl at heart, who loved/s to get the scissors and glitter and paint out and go for it! We became a lean, mean art-facilitating machine, with classes on simultaneously in different rooms in the old homestead.
So begat a merry flow of happy times. Some days, we’d sit out on the flat grass that faced the reeds on the edge of the Swan River, drawing trees and joggers in charcoal; other times, we’d combine the age groups for a large, colourful group exhibition in the Gallery. It was a lovely, supportive environment, where Art was King. Unquestioned. Valued. Celebrated! Chris Marshall, our friendly Co-Ordinator, was a huge part of setting this tone. Children’s art was an integral part of the community at Atwell Gallery – they were seen as the next generation of artists and art-appreciators, important and underpinning the other operations at the Centre. We were joined later, as the interest in kids’ art grew, by the lovely, sweet Serena Aristei, and experienced Croatian cartoonist, Sanja Stupar. Together, we were a larger kids art posse, one I have incredibly fond memories of!
I found the work to be incredibly satisfying – you had an inspiration, an idea, often originating from the childrens’ interests, which you then acquired the materials for, and shared with your kids. They would then use their creative enthusiasm to make the idea become a reality, right in front of your eyes! Seeing children experience new art practices and materials, helping to broaden their frame of reference in what they can materialise, refining their techniques and habits is just so…. cool! It feels creative for ME as well… I feel as though I/we’ve given life to an idea. And there didn’t have to be any hard soul-searching, alone, worrying whether my own creative abilities were up to a task I’d set for myself. I just love that my work-life is to be engaging in a space dedicated to the pursuit of original, imaginative inquiry. It was a perfect soul-fit!
I’m so grateful to Bob Hollingsworth for taking that chance on me, back in ’01. It set me on a path, for sure. I was at Atwell Gallery for nine fabulous years, during which time I moved into the Best Share House of All Time, met my lovely partner <3, completed a GradDipEd, and had a couple of babies. That place was so good to me! My spirit kind of got moulded by it, in a way that no job had affected me before.
I finally moved on to another job teaching kids’ art to the younger set, at Karen Frankel’s studio. After so long at Atwell, it was great to see how things were done at a different establishment. Karen is an incredibly friendly, generous, caring and real person to work for. I thoroughly enjoyed my year with her and the regular kids who appreciate Karen’s affable temperament and love of Art.
It was the purchase of our first home a little further out of town that caused me to regretfully say goodbye to Karen, and begin thinking about my future with kids’ art. Do I dare strike out on my own? Checking to ensure that no other similar businesses were operating close by, I began the process of turning a thought, a dream, into reality. What to call this enterprise? Ooh, surprisingly my favourite name, Budding Artists, is available!! Where to set up shop? My first choice would be the Midland Junction Arts Centre – ooh, it’s available too! How will I do the Admin side, the Business side? I’m used to turning inspiration into reality… it’ll come.
From very humble beginnings – my first class consisted of three kids, 33% of whom were my own offspring… to three and a half years later, running three weekly classes and School Holiday workshops, lots of which sell out soon after releasing them! I’ve had a stint at the Art Gallery of WA, during school holidays for the Victoria and Albert Princely Treasures. And soon I’ll be combining materials into kids’ craft kits… we’re nearly there for those (I’ve always loved making goody bags for parties 🙂 … all fitting beautifully around homeschooling my two boys. I couldn’t be more lucky!
So, there we have it.. the story of a chance, an opportunity, that set me on a journey to owning my own kids’ art business. I look forward to seeing what the next 14 years will hold for me and kids’ art! Yours in arty adventure, Kirsty 🙂